TIME broadband offers Malaysians one of the singularly fastest consumer broadband speeds in the country. Their focus is on broadband alone, but they cover the entire spectrum of the market from mobile to wholesale enterprise scale bandwidth. One of the most limiting factors is their much more limited coverage area compared to national telecommunication giant Telekom Malaysia.
TIME Internet Review: 6 Pros & 2 Cons of Signing up with TIME Broadband
June 18, 2020
As mentioned in our Telekom Malaysia (TM) review, TIME dotCom (TIME) was also affected by pressure exerted on the industry as a whole by the introduction of Mandatory Standard Access Pricing (MSAP) by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC).
For Malaysian consumers this was good as it saw broadband players being forced to bring down prices as well as increase service levels – including the speed of their offerings. The result were stabilized broadband fees along with a national hop in broadband speeds which saw the country as one of the top five fixed line broadband speed gainers.
When TIME first came into being it was what it still is now – a provider of telecommunications services. However, technology has changed, and this has resulted in one very important evolution – the move from copper wire to optical fibre.
The move the move has allowed time to reduce reliance on TM’s copper network and forced TIME to implement its own fibre optic network instead. Being vastly different in size (TM has a market capitalisation of approximately RM10b compared to TIME at RM5b), TIME opted to strike where the money was.
TM used to have a much higher market capitalization, but this dropped by more than 50% in 2018 following the MSAP announcement which would level the broadband playing field.
It put its resources into densely populated areas, which was good for the company, but restrictive for consumers. Till today, TIME is mostly only available in highly urbanized areas and high-density buildings such as condominiums.
With that, let’s move away from boring finances and get into the details of TIME offerings and what we think of them.
6 Things We Like About TIME Internet
1. Speed, speed and more speed!
* Rather than TIME’s speed test, I ran my usual from SpeedTest.net and still got great results.
When you sign up for TIME broadband the fibre line is usually laid by a contractor and pulled directly to where you want your access unit to be placed. The most important part of the installation (for us, as consumers) is that you ensure the technician tests the line performance for you.
I’m currently signed up for a 500Mbps residential package and this was exactly what happened for me during the installation process. When the tech ran his test, I was impressed that he managed to get close to a full 500Mbps result from that.
There are, however, a few caveats to getting strong speed test results from your line. After installation (and preferably before calling TIME and yelling at them) do note that speeds often vastly differ over LAN as compared to WiFi.
Today’s average wireless broadband router comes equipped with Gigabit LAN ports, which means it will be able to handle Gigabit speeds (1,000Mbps). Over WiFi, that’s a different story and WiFi speed capability depends on two things – the strength of your transmitting point and the strength of your receiving point.
Take for example my original setup, which as the default wireless router which TIME provided, along with an Acer Aspire 5 laptop. The router TIME provided was a dual band AC1200 unit, which means it can transmit on 24GHz and 5GHz at 300Mbps and 866Mbps respectively.
Here comes the exception – BUT, these are theoretical speeds. That means that in ideal conditions, these are the maximum possible speeds that the router can send data at over WiFi. But in reality, 2.5GHz and 5GHz can be expected to handle around 90Mbps and 240Mbps respectively.
Aside from the router, you also have the device you want to receive the WiFi signal on, which could be a smartphone, tablet or laptop. This too has a WiFi card or chip and that needs to be able to receive at speeds that are equal to or greater than your router.
What I’ve discussed here is an extremely simplified overview of how things work but someone has posted a more detailed discussion on WiFi equipment and speeds which you can read here.
The speed test result I’ve shown above is (to me) fantastic since I’m paying for 500Mbps and I can get pretty close to that. Admittedly, I had to change my wireless router to a better model and buy a good WiFi adapter for my PC to achieve those results.
If you are relying on the stock equipment that is provided by TIME, you will not get these speeds over WiFi. But it is possible if you upgrade your own equipment.
Finally, we have the official endorsement from OOKLA, one of the most popular broadband speed testing tools around. According to them and based on over 12 million consumer-initiated tests, TIME offers the best fixed network speeds in Malaysia.
2. Fantastic for torrenting / P2P
Perhaps it’s because of their hyper-fast speeds or even that they haven’t hinted at any sort of bandwidth capping at all, I’m particularly fond of the torrenting potential offered by TIME. Exactly how fast your downloads get are of course tied into the plan you sign up for.
Do remember though that as with all file sharing, your own line speed is only part of the equation. Because you’re essentially downloading bits of files off other computers, you can only get good speeds if the peers in your network are able to match your line speed.
Let’s take the above image as a study case. In this torrent client, I am trying to download 10 torrents and have managed to top out at around 36MB/s which translates to around 288Mbps. If you recall my line speed test from the section above, I can get around 386Mbps – both torrent downloads and speed test were done at around the same time frame.
This is pretty good considering all the factors that come in to play when calculating torrent speed. However, I do have to mention one thing here. For avid torrent fans, 500Mbps is likely the highest TIME plan you’ll need to go for if you’re looking to download over WiFi.
Your speeds will very likely be capped out by your network equipment limitations unless you’re willing to invest significant amounts into your home infrastructure.
3. Skilled TIME contractors
Having gone through three separate TM broadband installations before, I feel that their contractors have the tendency to be a little shady. This is not reflective of all of them, just the personal experiences I have had with them.
All those experiences left me with the impression that they tried to fleece me for additional wire length installation, were often late to appointments, did not like answering calls from customers and were a bit messy in their work. Again, this was my personal experience with TM contractors and are by no means reflective of their contractor network.
My one experience with a TIME contractor though, was great. He came alone (TM contractors usually come in pairs) and was on time for his appointment. He worked quickly and was done with the cable laying in less than 20 minutes (I stay in a condo, so he had to pull cable from the central riser to my unit).
* Neat cable laying by my TIME contractor – all with just a glue gun!
Once done, he setup all the equipment and did a line speed test for me – viola, finished! The most impressive part of everything was how neat a job he did with the cables – they were laid hugging the wall in neat, straight lines, unlike the job done by the TM contractor which basically draped the wires all over the place.
The entire process, from application till installation and me using my new 500Mbps line was complete in less than three working days!
4. You get free equipment
This isn’t really a comparative edge for TIME as compared to other providers, but giving freebies is not something I’ll frown upon. All TIME broadband plans come with two pieces of free equipment – the converter unit (for translating fibre signals) and a wireless modem.
* The TP-Link Archer C1200 is one of the usual wireless routers given out by TIME – it is a little slow, but reliable overall.
If you sign up for their 100Mbps or 500Mbps plan you get a TP-Link Archer C1200, whereas if you go for the 1Gbps plan then you get a free D-Link DIR-882. The first is an AC1200 unit, while the second is an AC2600. Theoretically they can support speeds of 1,200Mpbs (866Mbps on 5GHz and 300Mbps on 2.4GHz) and 2,200Mbps (1,733Mbps on 5GHz and 800Mbps on 2.4GHz).
There is a big “BUT” there though – remember that these are theoretical speeds. You will be lucky to reach 10% of that potential in an actual use case. By now you’ve probably realised that the equipment pretty much sucks, but hey – free is free!
Unless you are dead set on squeezing that 500Mbps line or 1Gbps lien for all it’s worth, the default equipment will work just fine and is quite reliable. Upgrading your home network will require you to shell out quite a bit of money though.
5. Voice capabilities
For those who are afraid to change to IEM broadband thinking that they will end up paying for two separate phone lines, don’t worry. If you sign up with TIME, the packages come with voice capabilities (and a free number), so you can dump your old TM phone line.
There are a few voice call plans available but if you’re anything like me then you may decide to forget all about them and rely on your mobile. Rates start from pay-as-you-use, but you can also opt for monthly plans that come with free minutes.
The package rates are reasonable though and top out at RM10/month with 300 call minutes free and they throw in a free DECT phone.
6. Easy to use self-help portal
As with all good services nowadays, TIME broadband provides a simple self-help portal for its customers. Here you can get a summary of your service as well as monitor your bills and connection status. There isn’t much else you can do here, but one useful portion of it is that you can configure how you want to set up your voice line, such as call forwarding and such.
Personally, I like the fact that you can raise a support ticket from this panel, since it means that you don’t have to call in to a support line and get kept waiting for hours or have to put up with support staff that have zero technical skills (which is what TM does to its customers).
They do offer some occasional rewards through the portal, such as freebies and such, but these are often limited. They are offered on a first-come first-served basis to TIME customers who happen to log in frequently to the self-help portal and see them in time!
Personally, for me the most convenient thing about the self-care portal is that you can view your billing history and raise support tickets directly via your account. Yet to be clear – this is still a very basic control panel. It is nowhere near as comprehensive as, say, the Maxis Mobile self-care portal which allows mobile users to adjust their plans and add-on services.
What We Didn’t Like About TIME Broadband
1. Choice of contract period
* Read the fine print before choosing your TIME contract period!
Some of you might be wondering why choice of contract period is under the cons section, but here it is. With TIME subscriptions, you can choose between a 12-month and 24-month contract period, whereas TM ties you in with a 24-month contract.
Here’s The Catch
if you decide to break contract with TM, then you get charged a RM500 cancellation fee. But for TIME, the no lock-in contract automatically levies a RM400 or RM500 surcharge on your account – and you will not be entitled to promotions!
Personally, this is a choice which is ridiculous, and I consider it penalizing customers under the guise of giving them a choice. Shame on you TIME!
2. Limited coverage
Here we come to the biggest disadvantage that comes with TIME broadband, and that is the extremely limited coverage area it has. It is mainly available in places in the Klang Valley and some parts of Penang and JB.
Aside from that, there are also limited number of installation ports at each location.
This is compounded by the fact that TIME is a pure fibre-optic company and doesn’t offer wireless broadband services. If you’re out of service area, it is unlikely that you will coverage anytime soon. I am uncertain as to why TIME has not decided to expand its coverage area but can only guess at commercial viability.
It costs lots of money to lay cable (any type of cable, not just fibre) and if TIME isn’t certain that the long-term income from an area can justify the cost outlay, well, it just won’t bother building the infrastructure. Unlike TM, TIME isn’t bound to support the government’s national broadband initiative and can pretty much do as it likes as long as it complies with MCMC requirements.
TIME Customer Comments: What Did They Say?
Thanks to their limited coverage areas, you can probably understand that their volume of interaction with customers is much lower than that of TM. Aside from some noise when connections go down from time to time (no pun intended), most feedback from customers is either positive or from those whose issues are more network equipment related.
Some customer comments:
- “Puchong prima down again? 1 week twice. ???”
- “Don’t know what’s the issue. All customer in Equine Park/Bandar Putra Permai affected.”
- “I feel your pain man. Pressed CS hard and they caved and said its “unexpected optical signal loss”.
- “Puchong here down? No internet when connected WiFi.”
- “Is Time server having problem with WeChat? I can connect with Digi or with VPN but not with Time (using google dns).”
The above comments were noted on Lowyat.net and if you follow the thread, you’ll notice that there are similarities in customer comment trends on TIME. There are occasional gripes about downtime, but the service overall seems positively received.
TIME also has product channels on Facebook and Twitter but those are not exactly very active from a customer viewpoint. There are nonetheless customers voicing their issues directly to TIME’s social media team.
TIME Plans & Pricing
TP-Link EC 230
TP-Link EC 230
D-Link DIR 882
One of the key things to remember about the pricing offered by TIME is that it is purely for broadband. TM packages in their IPTV service which is an extra that you pay for. As such, while TIME plans may seem cheaper, it is a more reflective view of pure broadband pricing.
Priced at between RM99 a month to RM199 a month, TIME broadband offers great bang-for-buck in terms of cost versus speed.
* TIME broadband’s current promotion plan offers up to RM240 discounts.
TIME also has frequent promotions that if offers to entice new users (including those who port over from other carriers). For example, their current promotion is called “Two for Tea” and offers those who sign up with them for either the 500Mbps plan or 1Gbps plan discounts of up to a total of RM240 off their bills for the 24 months of the contract.
TIME business users are the same as TM and get the short end of the stick. Their packages offer very little speed at rates that are far above what residential users are charged. My only guess as to the reason for this is that they expect business to consistently require more bandwidth.
Still, it’s a poor deal but one that is unavoidable since TIME also won’t install residential broadband in business premises.
Aside from the standard residential and business plans, TIME also deals in wholesale of bandwidth. This means that they sell international data transfer connections on a large scale to companies who may be in a similar line, albeit who are smaller.
Their enterprise options also benefit large companies that need dedicated leased lines such as International Private Leased Circuits (IPLCs) or International Ethernet Private Lines. These solutions are not exactly common and are sold on a case to case basis – customized.
Conclusion: Is TIME Broadband Worth Joining?
In a singular word – YES!
I have found TIME broadband to be extremely fast and their service levels quite professional. If I were to compare TM and TIME, it feels as though I was switching from a public sector company which doesn’t really care to a private sector one which knows it has to compete in a tough market.
There seems to be a much more realistic attitude that TIME takes towards its users and that translates into a much better service level. However, it is also true that because they need to be focused on commercial viability, TIME doesn’t really have the motivation to extend high speed broadband services to rural or lower-populated areas.
This means that it is quite unlikely they will increase coverage levels to much of Malaysia, unless somehow technology that lowers cost drastically becomes viable in the future. Given that the immediate thought goes to 5G, that’s likely another area where TIME will lose out since it doesn’t dabble in mobile broadband.
My only final comment would be – if it’s available in your area, thank your lucky stars and go for it!